Charged Sect Mom Believes Son Will Come Back From Dead
Ria Ramkissoon wants charges against her dropped if her son is resurrected.
April 1, 2009 — -- A Baltimore mother charged with starving her son to death with the help of alleged fellow members of a religious group to which she said she belonged had been so brainwashed by the group that she agreed to withdraw her guilty plea if the child is resurrected in human form, according to her attorney.
"I have never seen anything like this in a plea agreement," said Steve Silverman, the attorney representing Ria Ramkissoon, 22, who was a member of the faith-based religious group One Mind Ministries at the time of her son's death in December 2006.
"It's clear [my client] is brainwashed," Silverman said today. "She is delusional, and the mere fact that she is currently insisting upon a caveat that her plea be dismissed if her son is resurrected speaks for itself."
Silverman told ABCNews.com that Ramkissoon, who admits to withholding food and water and food from her son because he refused to say "amen" after meals, remains confident that her son, who had just celebrated his first birthday at the time of his death, will rise from the dead.
Ramkissoon agreed Monday, in exchange for a lesser charge of child abuse resulting in death, to testify against four other purported members of the group allegedly involved in her son's death, including the alleged leader, known as Queen Antoinette. She and the three other members have been charged with first-degree murder and are awaiting trial. Antoinette, which is how she's identified in court documents, is being held without bail.
Ramkissoon, who has been in prison since her son was found dead, will receive a suspended 20-year sentence and serve five years' probation.
"It would be very easy for the court to simply say that Ramkissoon starved her child and charge her as such," Silverman said. "But they understand that she was [young] and under the influence of a demagogue twice her age who indoctrinated her.
"I think people, including the prosecutors in this case, understand Ramkissoon was a victim of this as well."
Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office, declined to comment specifically on the case or on whether prosecutors consider Ramkissoon to be a victim, citing the ongoing investigation.
But when asked about her reaction to the plea deal, Burns said she had "never seen anything like this before."